Weeks tabbed as next Maine Youth Governor
HOULTON, Maine — Zachary Weeks is not sure what his career path will be in the future, but he has already gotten a start on a potential political campaign.
Weeks, a 17-year-old junior at Houlton Middle-High School, was elected as the 2019 State of Maine Youth Governor at the State YMCA Youth in Government program held Nov. 9-11 in Augusta. He is the first Houlton student to be elected governor in the history of the program.
“Being able to represent Houlton at the state, and national level, is incredible,” Weeks said.
The Youth in Government program is open to any student in grades 9-12. Schools may have any number of participants, and the program also is open to similarly aged home-schooled students.
The program provides high schoolers with hands-on experience into how Maine’s Legislative process works by allowing the delegates to draft bills to be debated. The group also elects peers to positions that exist in Maine government, such as governor, senators, representatives, pages, and sergeant-at-arms.
“Zach is a very mild-mannered, insightful student who is self motivated to succeed in all of his academic endeavors,” said Evan Clark, Houlton’s advisor for the Youth in Government program. “Students who wish to run for youth governor must be elected during caucus sessions that are done via video conference with other schools and YMCA programs throughout the state.”
Weeks delivered a powerful speech in October during the group’s first caucus, but was not elected as a candidate for the position, according to Clark.
“I am proud of him for being resilient and eventually being selected during the second caucus session,” Clark said. “His perseverance paid off as he delivered an even greater speech in front of his peers on the House of Representatives floor of the Augusta State House the night before Youth in Government participants voted for their new governor. It is the only time that I can recall a student receiving a standing ovation following a candidacy speech, and it was clear that Zach was a favorite to win despite competing with worthy opponents from the Maine School of Science and Math as well as Bonny Eagle High School.”
Weeks, a resident of Houlton, is the son of Robin Lynn Bickford and Kenneth Weeks Sr. His speech was not one filled with a bunch of statistics or passionate pleas on a specific political issue.
“I stressed unity in my speech,” Weeks said. “As young people, to see real change, we have to be the change.”
He said he also asked his peers the question of, “What if?” during his speech. “What if we worked together?” Weeks said. “What if we all went home and shined as bright as we could? What if we didn’t care how bright we were, but made the future brighter for everyone around us?”
As the governor-elect, Weeks will have his own office at next year’s program, complete with all the powers that Maine’s governor has, meaning he can sign or veto bills, give speeches and be the chief executive for that weekend.
As Maine’s new governor, Weeks received a week-long, all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C., where he will meet the 49 other student governors. That trip takes place in June 2019.
Politics has been a passion of Weeks from the time he was a young boy. He said he could recite the names of all of the presidents by the age of 5 and while his friends were reading comic books, he was busy reading biographies by Lyndon Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant or other past historical figures.
“I am a very outgoing person, who is pretty laid back,” Weeks said. “I think that helped (in the election process) because people can talk to me about anything.”